Belfast bus driver whose act of kindness to homeless man captured hearts of thousands
It was just another day in the life of a Belfast bus driver whose selfless act of kindness toward a homeless man has captured the hearts of thousands.
Metro driver Paul Doyle had been praised after he made a brief unscheduled stop to his 10H service last night.
The caring Belfast man had previously spotted a young homeless man sitting on the street on previous runs and wanted to give him something for the coming winter months.
Paul gave the man a bag containing a new winter coat, some food and cash.
The driver thought nothing more of it and went on with the rest of his route as planned.
However, unknown to Paul one of his passengers posted the story of the heartwarming gesture and from their it spread making this morning's headlines.
And back behind the wheel this morning, the bus driver of some 20 years has been left stunned by the reaction.
Chairman of Unite the union's Metro branch, Michael Dornan, said Paul never intended to get any recognition.
He said: "Paul is a laid back, easy-going, shy person.
"He never intended for this to spread the way it has and if truth be told he is a bit embarrassed by it."
Michael went on: "Paul had noticed this young lad wearing flimsy little clothes and decided to do something about it.
"He gave him the coat, some bread and milk and a fiver.
"The man refused to take the bag at first but Paul told him he expected to see him wearing it the next time he passed in his bus.
"That's the humour of Paul.
"It's just another day in the life of a bus driver in the city."
The bus drivers of Unite, for their Christmas campaign, will be supporting the homeless in the city.
Michael added: "Our members have been noticing an increase in the amount of homeless on the streets.
"They are the forgotten people of Belfast and we want to do something to help them."
Student AnnaMarie McDaniel brought the story to prominence when she spotted the driver do "the sweetest thing I've ever seen anybody do".
When the 19-year-old got home, St Mary's College student AnnaMarie took to Facebook to share her excitement at what she had seen.
In all, more than 40,000 people had given the thumbs up to Anna Marie's story of human warmth and kindness on a rainy Belfast night.
"I get the same bus every Tuesday and there is always a homeless man that we pass. Today he was standing in the pouring rain, drenched to the skin in just a short sleeved t-shirt. My heart went out to him," she said.
"The bus man driving the 10H that I was on stopped the bus beside the man, and called him over.
"He then handed him a big red plastic bag, and told him that he was hoping to see him today - as he'd bought him a winter coat.
"The man refused to take the bag, but the driver was adamant that the man take it as he had gone out and bought it for him.
"I have never seen a smile like the one on the homeless man's face.
"I couldn't believe how kind the bus driver was, such a thoughtful act. A little bit of kindness really can go a long way."
When she reached her stop, AnnaMarie decided she would let the driver know how she felt after witnessing his generosity.
"I wanted to let the driver know that I thought what he did was the sweetest thing I've ever seen anybody do," she said.
"So I spoke to him before I got off the bus."
She said: "I wanted him to know how much the wonderful thing he had done had meant to me."
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, AnnaMarie said she had been overwhelmed by the avalanche of positive reaction and comments to her Facebook post about the driver's kindness.
"My phone has gone into meltdown. And there have been so many positive comments on my Facebook page. And I've had over 90 friends requests," she said.
Reaction to AnnaMarie's post and driver Paul's kindness as he drove the 10H service poured onto Translink social media last night.
Among the hundreds of heartwarming comments, Allison Madden said: "Translink should be very proud of this driver and his huge heart. Their drivers are well placed to see this need."
Stephanie Dyer said: "How lovely and very thoughtful. We really don't realise how lucky most of us are coming home to a warm meal and family."
Commenter Angela McCann added: "So, so kind. If there were more people like this bus driver in the world it would be a better place. I take my hat off to him, you are a true gentleman - you will get paid back ten-fold."